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Banham zoo closes its doors to keep visitors safe




Banham Zoo has closed its doors to the public for a third time amid growing concerns about rising Covid-19 cases in the UK.

The zoo had previously been able to reopen with safety procedures and one-way systems in place, but with numbers surging to 50,000 new cases in the UK each day, a decision was taken to close the zoo and its sister site, Africa Alive, in Suffolk.

Despite losing an estimated £1.5 million in visitor revenue during the first lockdown, before taking a second hit in November, the Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA), a charity which runs both sites, volunteered to close once again – a decision which was made before Monday’s announcement of a third country-wide lockdown.

Banham, Norfolk, 07/10/2020..Claudia Roberts joint managing director of Banham Zoo is struggling after being denied more government funding...Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography.
Banham, Norfolk, 07/10/2020..Claudia Roberts joint managing director of Banham Zoo is struggling after being denied more government funding...Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography.

The charity said that it felt compelled to “take the responsible action”.

Both zoos had reopened outdoor areas on December 27 after the Government published an amended “statutory instrument”, which permitted certain attractions, including zoos, to remain open in Tier 4 areas.

However, with the decision to reopen now having been reversed, both locations will remain closed until further notice.

Speaking prior to Prime Minister Boris Johnson (pictured) addressing the nation earlier this week to tell people to stay at home, joint managing director Claudia Roberts said: “It has been a very difficult decision to make.

“Despite zoos and other outdoor attractions being allowed to remain open, the government guidelines for tier four state to stay at home and act responsibly to control the virus.

“The numbers of Covid-19 infections have been rising daily and, with the concern about the increased spread, I believe it is necessary, even though a national lockdown has not been announced, to close both zoos until further notice to help control the pandemic.

“We will review this over the coming weeks and will update all our supporters as soon as we believe it is safe to reverse our decision and open our doors.

“We are, of course, very disappointed to have to make this decision and will be offering anyone who has pre-booked tickets the opportunity to come at any point once we reopen, up until June 30.

Anyone who had tickets from December 31 onwards is welcome to use their tickets on any day from when the zoos reopen.

“There will be no need to rebook – just quote the original booking number at the kiosk.”

Having already lost millions of pounds in visitor revenue in 2020 and facing bills of £25,000 per week just to keep the animals fed, Africa Alive and Banham Zoo have appealed for donations to their #WildAboutSurvival campaign.

To find out more or make a donation, go online to www.justgiving.com/campaign/zsea.



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